Country Positioning Itself to Build Nuclear Weapons Should It Chooses to Do So
Iran is feeling the bite from economic sanctions imposed over its nuclear program, the director of CIA told Congress on Tuesday.
“The sanctions have been biting much, much more literally in recent weeks than they have until this time,” CIA Director David Petraeus said at a Senate intelligence committee hearing.
“What we have to see now is how does that play out, what is the level of popular discontent inside Iran, does that influence the strategic decision-making of the Supreme Leader and the regime, keeping in mind that the regime's paramount goal in all that they do is their regime survival,” Gen. Petraeus added.
But Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, giving testimony to the same panel, acknowledged that sanctions so far had not caused the Iranian leaders to change their behavior or policies.
“Iran's economic difficulties probably will not jeopardize the regime, absent a sudden and sustained fall in oil prices or a sudden domestic crisis that disrupts oil exports,” Clapper's written testimony said.
Evaluating the impact of the current sanctions on Iran oil exports, Petraeus said that China has reduced imports of Iranian oil but “it remains to be seen whether that continues.”
“It appears that Saudi Arabian production is ramping up and can fill some of the demand that might have been met by Iranian exports now that there are the sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran,” he said.
On state of Iran’s nuclear program, Clapper said Iran was positioning itself to produce nuclear weapons whenever it decides to do so.
"We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so," Clapper said in written testimony. "We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons."
Source: Reuters, 31 January 2012